We started out calling it THE coronavirus. Then news reports began to qualify it with an adjective, the novel coronavirus. Then it was further explained, scientifically, that coronaviruses are a class of many cold and flu viruses. The prefix corona comes from images of the viruses showing protuberances that make them look like they are wearing a crown. This particular coronavirus du jour was given the distinguished name, Covid-19. Covid….Nineteen. Makes one ponder what happened to the first eighteen Covids. The pictures of Covid-19 show a white prickly ball with a flowery red exterior and patches of orange and yellow. I wonder if the colors are real, or just added for fun by fanciful scientists. How can something that small have color? Shouldn’t it be colorless, like an albino fish in the deep lightless sea? What evolutionary purpose would a virus have for color? To attract a mate like the glorious peacock? Hardly. Viruses are just a few strands of genetic material, not really even alive outside their mammal host, let alone flexing their red coronas in search of a hot date. Would color serve to frighten off predators like the fake eyes on butterfly wings? You, antibody, my red coronas are SO scary you better back off! I don’t think so.
The constitution of the virus is closer to that of a delicate flower. The truth is that an outer fat layer on the Covid-19 virus makes it completely vulnerable to that most formidable slayer of microbes, lowly soap and hot water. A big irony of the whole Covid-19 virus pandemic is how something so deadly can be killed so easily by such a mundane task as washing your hands.
Submitted by Margaret Ma, Santa Clara County
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series. The links to all twelve parts are: Syllabus, Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, Lesson 4, Lesson 5, Lesson 6, Lesson 7, Lesson 8, Lesson 9, Lesson 10, and Final Exam.